Gainesville lines up for a play on the one-yard line in the Hurricanes 37–7 win over Eastside. Photo courtesy of Jack Webber.

Gainesville Snaps Losing Streak; Dominates Eastside 37–7

Story by Bennett Solomon and Kaitlyn Wadulack

The Class 6A Hurricanes (2–3) crushed the Class 5A Rams (1–7)  37–7 Friday night. After playing for the first time in over a month last week, the Hurricanes looked to rebound after a loss to Lee High School (Jacksonville) 29–3. The Rams cruised past Santa Fe last week 20–3 and collected their first win of the season. Both teams looked to earn a win heading into the first round of the playoffs next week.

Penalties discourage Rams offense in first half

The Hurricanes struck first, with running back Kyree Edwards rushing in for a 15-yard touchdown after Hurricane cornerback Cassaun Garrison intercepted Rams quarterback Holden Johnson. With 2:30 left in the first quarter, the Hurricanes held a 7–0 lead. The ensuing kickoff set the Rams up with poor field position, inside their own five-yard line. Additionally, multiple illegal procedure penalties backed the Rams up to their goal-line with little room to run the ball. The Hurricanes took advantage, recording a safety and extending their lead to 9–0 with 1:23 remaining in the first quarter. 

The Hurricanes struck again in the second quarter when Hurricane quarterback found wide-receiver Brent King for a touchdown on a 15-yard slant route. This increased the Hurricane lead to 16–0 with 8:36 left in the second quarter. Neither team could find the endzone for the rest of the quarter, allowing the Hurricanes to hold their 16–0 lead going into halftime. 

Rams respond to strong Hurricanes offense in third quarter

The Rams offense couldn’t make any successful plays on the first drive, forcing Eastside to kick a high, short punt. This left the Hurricanes ball starting at the Rams 33-yard line. 

The Hurricanes struggled some as well on their first drive, leaving them fourth and one. They went for it and got a 10-yard pick up to the 14-yard line by running back John Cooper. Cooper continued to dominate, and Eastside’s defense couldn’t stop him. After getting his offense inside the five-yard line with a handoff from quarterback Shamon Coleman, Cooper ran in a two-yard touchdown. With 6:56 left in the third, the Hurricanes led 23–0.  

Although the Rams struggled offensively throughout the night, they did not back down. While punting their own ball away, Eastside was able to recover their punt after being misplayed by the Hurricanes. This left the Rams at their own 47-yard line. While this drive didn’t lead to a score, the Hurricanes field position proved to be an advantage for the Rams. At the Hurricanes’ own 25-yard line, Coleman dropped back to pass the ball, but defensive end Artrayul Goss intercepted the ball and ran it back for a pick-six to cut the Hurricane lead to 23-7 with 39 seconds left in the third. 

Hurricanes strengthen lead in fourth quarter

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Hurricanes running back Nay’Ron Jenkins ran 57-yards to get his offense inside the one-yard line. Running back Kyree Edwards finished the job, rushing in a one-yard touchdown, increasing the Hurricanes lead to 30–7. 

Cooper proved to be a continued challenge for the Rams defense in the fourth quarter. After taking his team inside the seven-yard line, Cooper ran in a touchdown to advance his team’s lead to 37–7 with 8:29 left in the fourth. This score remained on the scoreboard until the final whistle blew, allowing the Hurricanes to snap their losing streak and head into the playoffs on a positive note. 

“I think that we are getting better because we are able to get reps finally,” Hurricanes head coach Dock Pollard said. “Consistent repetition is what we want to do and I think that was the difference-maker tonight. That, and what we were doing at practice actually transferred to the game.”

Next week, the Hurricanes are set to begin their playoff journey as they host the Mainland Buccaneers (5–1) at Santa Fe High School on November 13 at 7:30 p.m. 

About Bennett Solomon

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